The sponsor of the Missouri bill to ban abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy described how the measure moved through the Legislature as being like human life itself.
“This bill started out like everyone else here ... with a simple heartbeat,” state Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) said in a statement May 17 after the state House voted 110-44 to send it to Gov. Mike Parson for his signature.
Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City called the legislation “an important step forward in building a culture of life.”
“May each of us do all we can to support and defend the dignity of each human life,” he said in a May 17 statement.
The state Senate passed the bill the previous day.
The Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, HB 126, aims to “uphold Americans’ most basic rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Rep. Schroer, a Catholic, said. “This legislation has one goal, and that is to save lives ... to withstand judicial challenges and not cause them.”
St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson called for continued persistence and determination in proclaiming a culture of life.
“Know that the Archdiocese of St. Louis is committed to providing support, services and life-sustaining education to women during and after pregnancy, especially those who may feel frightened, alone or are contemplating abortion,” he said in a statement May 24, the day Gov. Parson signed the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act into law.
In a statement the previous week, the archbishop commended state lawmakers for passing the bill.
“During the annual March for Life in January, I walked with those proclaiming a culture of life,” he said. “We all have a responsibility to do what we can so that in this nation, in our families, in our archdiocese, we choose life unconditionally.
“What we are now witnessing here in Missouri are lawmakers exercising that responsibility, and we commend them for working to protect the innocent and vulnerable,” he continued. “We pray that the love of Jesus Christ touches our hearts, so we all become witnesses to the protection and nurturing of all life.”
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a May 23 statement praised Missouri and other states for passing pro-life legislation in recent weeks.
“Every single human life has value,” he said.
The bill would criminalize any abortion beyond eight weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of medical emergencies. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. Doctors who perform abortions after eight weeks face five to 15 years in prison. There is no punishment for the mother.
The Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC), public-policy agency of the state’s Catholic bishops, noted that the bill also features many other pro-life provisions, including increased parental notification and informed consent provisions; a ban on abortions based on race, gender and Down syndrome diagnosis, “and an outright ban on abortion when Roe v. Wade is overturned.”
In a May 24 statement, the MCC thanked Gov. Parson for signing the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act.
“The MCC appreciates Governor Parson’s courage in signing this bill in the face of great opposition,” said MCC Executive Director Tyler McClay. “The passage of HB 126 is a historic moment for the pro-life community in Missouri.
“It is hoped that this bill and other bills like it around the country will help change the narrative about abortion and the humanity of unborn life by recognizing life in the womb in the early stages of pregnancy as worthy of protection,” he said.
The MCC also expressed its gratitude to all of the lawmakers in the Missouri House and Senate who stood for the unborn and helped to pass one of the strongest pro-life bills in the country.